09 June 2022, St Louis, USA [Jim Botha]
By the time Thursday arrived in St. Louis, I realise that one of the lasting souvenirs I will take back home with me, is that 20,000 steps a day is well within the realms of possibility! The distances between the centre and the hotel make this possible. But don’t let the steps get in the way of good church governance and business. Although the 2022 session is smaller than usual, combined there are around 2,600 delegates active each day in this big hall, and many connecting digitally.
Most of the action relating to elected posts in the world church, happened on Tuesday and Wednesday, so Thursday was a day filled with Church manual corrections, additions, and omissions.
The day started with a devotion led by Charissa Torossian, all the way from Australia, live, via video conference. In a powerful sermon, Torossian shared from the life of Mary Magdalene, explaining that when you are devoted to Jesus you will:
- Live for Him – Mary’s priority was Jesus. When Martha stepped out of the kitchen on the day when Jesus visited them, she saw Mary at Jesus’ feet. We learn that when you open your home to Him, you open your heart too.
- Learn from Him – Opening your home to Jesus affords you the opportunity to learn from Him.
- Listen to Him – When you invite Jesus into the home, you create a space to listen to Him.
- Long for Him – Times come when you long for Jesus. What do you do when you feel Jesus has let you down? When Jesus said He would be there, and does not arrive, how does that feel? Torossian concluded with the good news that Jesus, in fact, never lets anyone down. His timing always provides the best for all his disciples!
Then there was story that Charissa told of Greyfriars Bobby, a dog who remained faithful for 14 years after his master died. For me this is significant, as the statue of this dog can be visited when you visit the beautiful city of Edinburgh, near where I live. The example of this dog, being so faithful, exemplifies the faithfulness of Mary and Martha, who went to see the grave of Jesus, and spoke to angels without noticing who they were talking to.
Torossian challenged the world church to get involved because Jesus is coming, “Is there something that causes you to hold back? Are you willing to show that you are 100% devoted to God? The Church needs to tell a dying world what a living God has done for us.”
GC Session Press Conference
Another highlight of Thursday was a Press Conference, held by the General Conference (GC) President, Pastor Ted Wilson, together with GC Secretary,
Erton C Köhler, and GC Treasurer, Paul Douglas. With many journalists from all divisions of the world church assembled, Elder Wilson and the church leaders were asked to respond to questions coming from specific regions in the world.
What plans does the church have to deal with and help to prevent too much haemorrhaging, especially from younger members, but also older members? With the church losing members in many areas, the journalists highlighted this issue. Other questions related to how the church deals with individuals who are ‘different’ than the ‘norm’, or how the church deals with absence of either men or women, in general, in certain areas of the world.
So, what do we do with all this information? Each day at session has produced its own report, and everyone is looking forwards to Friday, which will consist of reports from each division. This promises to be a highlight. To get there on Friday, each delegate will have to walk. Each delegate will have walked several miles by the time the session ends. And as I look at the steps that I have accumulated and thinking of those who challenged me to walk more than them by the end of the week, I am reminded of the title of a simple book many of us know well. And then I am also reminded why we were here in the first place. Steps to Christ.
No matter what happened in this big hall this week, we all walked far, to see and hear the conversation. And I believe that every step we took, was a step closer to a place where Jesus wants us to be. The work done by the delegation on Thursday, although they were involved with considering sentences in the church manual, was meant to bring the church collectively to a better place. Session work may seem to some like small changes, but it is always done with the aim of bringing people closer to Christ.
When you walk again, look at your feet. Look at how they move, see the exercise, and think, am I stepping closer to Christ?
[Photos: Jim Botha]